Be still. Listen with your eyes and your heart.

Be silent and listen,

The human mind has keen observational ability. However, our busy, modern lives are filled with chaotic, dizzy, conflicting thoughts, ideas, desires, opinions, images and demands; making it almost impossible to focus on just one thing and observe it deeply, so, most often we don’t.

The majority of us don’t listen to understand. We listen to react. Or, we listen to find the space to jump in and prove we’re right. I’ve found this to be the case in both my personal and professional relationships (and yes, I’ve played my dysfunctional part in both 😊)

It’s when we listen with our eyes and our hearts wide open that we observe the emotions, reactions, over-reactions (even our own), the body language and non-verbal cues, along with words and tone of voice, that we’re able to understand the state of a fellow human being and more importantly our own state and intentions.

When I was in a concert band years ago, I recall our conductor bringing stillness to the band before every performance or competition. One at a time, each musician tuned up, and the others were silent. Then, the conductor would tune us by section, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, saxophones, etc until we were “in tune” with each other. Then, our collective focus became the piece we were performing. We each had to thoughtfully listen and observe the conductor and the rest of the musicians to determine when it was time to play our part. We didn’t listen to react, we listened to create harmony.

When I was involved in community theater, before each production, the cast and crew would take a moment to rally and focus in on the performance ahead of us and the audience we were performing to. During a performance we had to listen, watch for our entry points and work together to guide each other through the performance, sometimes improvising when lines were forgotten or stage cues missed.

Many athletic teams do something similar before a game. They rally, get focused and tune in to their team members. During play, they have to be keen observers of what’s going on around them. They must listen with their eyes.

I know some of my healthcare colleagues do the same thing before they begin a surgery. They stop, become still and assemble their collective focus on the needs of the patient. During the procedure they must observe, listen and cooperate as a team.

As a community of 7.3 billion people, we can no longer pretend we are on different teams. We have to live, listen and play as if we are a part of the same symphony, the same stage production, the same athletic or surgical team.

We don’t have to look the same, sound the same, act the same, or BE the same. In fact, it’s our differences that create the harmony, the success, the wins, the applause, and our mutual respect and compassion for one another.

When we’re busy making noise, trying to be heard, being angry or offended or trying to be right, we’re not learning or growing or getting closer to solutions. When we’re loud, we can’t hear the exhausted whispers of truth flowing from each other’s tired souls, desperately trying to play our parts and create the harmony we all seek.

The most powerful messages are received when we’re silent and listen with our eyes and, our hearts wide open.

Toni O’Keeffe ~🌹❤️

Today, I will love you as you are.

“Today, I will love you as you are.
Tomorrow, I will do the same.”
What if we made this pledge to each other every single day?

What if we decided to stop judging each other based on race, gender, looks, wealth, lifestyle, belief system and trusted that each of us is on the path designed specifically for our individual soul?

What if we were kind, embraced our differences and lifted each other up when we witnessed one another struggling, rather than strike each other down?

What if we acted from a place of love, rather than a place of fear?

What if…we stopped making it so hard for each other?

Today, I will love you as you are.
Tomorrow, I will do the same.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~ 🌹❤️

Open heart ~ Open mind

Life became easier when I surrendered my own tenacity and began to live with an open heart and an open mind.

There are things I’ve discovered and learned along the way, which I might never have unearthed if I had remained locked in my own stubbornness.

Our struggles often result from our inability to see the possibilities beyond our own thinking and the doctrines imposed on us.

Living with an open heart and mind means considering alternatives, actively listening to opinions different from our own, being kind before jumping to judgment and being aware of signs along the way pointing you in new directions.

Open minds and open hearts, have created more music, magic, poetry, peace, love and light in the world, then closed minds and cold hearts.

Toni O’Keeffe~🌹❤️

Surround yourself with light

By Toni O’KEEFFE

Nov, 30, 2020

Surround yourself with light ~
When we focus on the dark, negative aspects of life, this darkness begins to poison our minds, body’s and souls, making us sick, discouraged and depressed.

When we focus on the light, positive, beautiful aspects of life, we feel “light”, calm, peaceful and we’re able to heal our minds, body’s and souls.

You know toxic substances harm your internal well-being, likewise toxic thoughts, information, ideas and toxic people can alter your perspective, poison your life and make you ill.

Surround yourself with people and things, that bring you light, peace, healing and encourage you to shine.
Toni O’K~ 🌹 ❤️

Don’t Just Count your Blessings, Live them.

By Toni O’Keeffe

December 8, 2020

I woke this morning with a warm puppy snuggled into the nape of my neck. This tiny bundle of caramel coloured fur always makes me smile. As I scratched his belly, I heard the click of my coffee maker come on and smiled again, proud I had remembered to set the timer.

I wandered to the kitchen, poured a cup, turned on the fireplace, settle into my favourite chair with puppy in my lap, took that first bless’ed sip, and listened to the silence fall around me.

Most mornings start this way, calm, peaceful and reflective.

There was a time when my life was busy and noisy. I didn’t always appreciate the colours of the day, or have the time to slowly sip my coffee and gaze out the window.

Decades were spent on the move, hustling my boys to and from day-care, school, sports, and other activities. Bouncing between work, community services and my own educational pursuits, always busy, always rushing, always something to do, somewhere to go or someone waiting for something.

The “busy stuff” is the means needed to build our lives, but, the busy stuff doesn’t define our lives. It’s the simple beautiful moments that bring us joy and give meaning to the journeys we’re on.

Moments watching a child fall asleep in your lap because that’s where they feel safe, moments making messes and allowing pumpkin guts to fall on the floors and get stuck in your hair because they’re having fun, moments spent with two little guys on a skip-out day appreciating the wonder and silence of the forest or sitting in an open field, feeling content watching birds glide on the wind.

Then, there’s the quiet morning moments, when all the busy is behind you, those two little guys are grown and now its a puppy falling a sleep in your lap.

We need a balance of busy days and days when we’re able to just “be”. Days when we don’t just count our blessings, we live them, being fully present, taking in all the magic and meaning they bring. Because these are the days we will remember, these are the moments that will warm our hearts for ALL THE DAYS of our lives.

Holding Light

There is light within this messy, tangled, unconditioned 2020 tunnel we’re passing through.

You’ll find this light shining in the words, the wisdom, the hands, the acts of kindness and the hearts that capture your attention and hold you. Surrender, and let them hold you.

If you need to let your tears fall, let them fall. Let your tears take the the pain, fatigue, confusion and disappointment with them.

We will emerge from this year kinder, wiser and into better brighter days. Until then, find and hold on to the light that comforts you and provides you with shelter from the heaviness of this downpour,

The light and the warmth it brings always, without fail, returns☀️.

Toni O’K~ 🌹 ❤️

This dream is for you

I know you feel weak and can not muster the strength to dream.
So, this dream is for you.
In this dream, you are loved.
You do not judge yourself or measure your life or success against the lives of others.
You have let go of behaviours, material possessions, substances and people that do not bring you joy.
You are kind, compassionate and loving to yourself and others.
You feel whole in who you are.
You realize that “IT” all happened for a reason, even if “IT” was painful, it had purpose.
You are able to forgive.
You are healing.
You are happy, healthy, loved, and creative.
Your mind, body and spirit are peaceful and your journey now makes sense.

I dream of you enjoying warm sunny days and star lite nights, away from the glow of civilized chaos, melting into the stillness and healing embrace of the natural world.

If you’ve lost your way and can’t see the road ahead, my beautiful, amazing, soul friend, this dream is for you.

Love Toni ~ 🌹❤️

Don’t make them ask

By Toni O’Keeffe

Walk quietly beside her so she can feel your presence.
Hold his hand for a little while until he asks you to let go.
Wrap your arms around her while she weeps.
Be their Peace.
Leave the light on and stay with him until he falls asleep.
Sit with them in silence, so they don’t have to feel the emptiness that surrounds them.
Don’t ask her what’s wrong, because she’s not sure.
Stop talking and listen, not only to their words, but their actions, their silence and their tears.
People in pain, suffering grief, depression or anxiety don’t always know how to ask for what they need.
Don’t make them ask.
Toni O’K~🌹❤️